OAG now looking into contempt charges vs Torres’ executive assistant

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The Office of the Attorney General is now looking into the criminal contempt citation recently levied by the House of Representatives Judiciary and Governmental Operations Committee against Gov. Ralph Torres’ executive assistant.

In a short statement from Chief Prosecutor Chester Hinds of the Office of the Attorney General Criminal Division, the contempt findings against Frances M. Dela Cruz is under investigation.

“In accordance with the statute 1 CMC § 1306, on Nov. 16th, the Speaker of the House, [Edmund] Villagomez, sent a letter to the Attorney General, certifying the statement of contempt and asking the AG to prosecute Frances Delacruz for contempt. Prosecutors have been assigned to the case and the matter is being investigated,” he said.

According to Saipan Tribune archives, the JGO committee held Dela Cruz in criminal contempt after a hearing last Tuesday when she refused to answer questions by repeatedly reading a statement citing her reasons for objecting to the subpoena issued her.

Dela Cruz was not arrested at that time. JGO chair Rep. Celina R. Babauta (D-Saipan) excused Dela Cruz until further notice, after which the committee members who were present unanimously voted to hold her in contempt. After the voting, Babauta wrote Villagomez to inform him of their action.

Dela Cruz appeared before the committee with her counsel, Viola Alepuyo. Gilbert Birnbrich also appeared at the hearing as counsel for the Office of the Governor.

Those who voted to hold Dela Cruz in contempt were Reps. Celina R. Babauta (D-Saipan), Edwin K. Propst (D-Saipan), Richard T. Lizama (D-Saipan), Donald M. Manglona (Ind-Rota), and vice speaker Blas Jonathan Attao (R-Saipan).

Rep. Christina E. Sablan (D-Saipan), who joined the hearing virtually, was still considered absent as she is off-island. Rep. Vicente Camacho (D-Saipan) was also absent.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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